The Ruins of Athens

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The Ruins of Athens (Die Ruinen von Athen), Opus 113, is a set of incidental music pieces written in 1811 by Ludwig van Beethoven. The music was written to accompany the play of the same name by August von Kotzebue, for the dedication of a new theatre at Pest.

A second overture was written in 1822 for the same play. It was composed specifically for the reopening of Vienna's Theater in der Josefstadt in 1822. The second overture is now known as The Consecration of the House.

Perhaps the best-known music from The Ruins of Athens is the Turkish March, a theme that even many who are not avid classical music listeners are familiar with. The overture and the Turkish March are often performed separately, and the other pieces of this set are not often heard[citation needed]. Another of Beethoven's compositions, Six variations on an original theme, Op. 76, uses the Turkish March as its theme.

The music for The Ruins of Athens was reworked in 1924 by Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.


  1. Overture, Op. 113, (Andante con moto, G minor - Allegro, ma non troppo, G major)
  2. Chorus: Tochter des mächtigen Zeus (Andante poco sostenuto, E-flat major)
  3. Duet (a Greek and a Greek girl): Ohne Verschulden Knechtschaft dulden (Andante con moto - Poco piu mosso, G minor)
  4. Dervish Chorus: Du hast in deines Ärmels Falten (Allegro, ma non troppo - E minor)
  5. Turkish March (Vivace - B-flat major)
  6. Music from the back of the stage (Allegro assai ma non troppo - C major)
  7. March with chorus, Op. 114: Schmückt die Altare (Assai moderato - E-flat major)
  8. Recital: Mit reger Freude
  9. Chorus: Wir tragen empfängliche Herzen im Busen (Allegretto ma non troppo - G major)
  10. Aria and Chorus: Will unser Genius noch einen Wunsch gewähren? (Adagio - C major) Er ist's! Wir sind erhört! (Allegro con brio - C major)
  11. Chorus: Heil unserm König! (Allegro con fuoco - A major)


German English



2. Chor
Tochter des mächtigen Zeus! erwache!
Sein Ruf ertönt!
Geschwunden sind die Jahre der Rache!
Er ist versöhnt!

Daughter of Mighty Zeus! Awake!
Her name resounds!
The years of wrath are past!
We are reconciled!

3. Duett
Ohne Verschulden Knechtschaft dulden, harte Noth!
Alle Tage neue Plage um das bischen liebe Brot!
Von den Zweigen winkt der Feigen süsse Frucht,
Nicht dem Knechte der sie pflegte,
Nur dem Herren, dem er flucht!
Hingegeben wilden Horden,
Tiefgebeugt in ihre Hand,
ach! ach! ach! ach!
Was ist aus dir geworden,
Armes, armes Vaterland!

To suffer slavery, though guiltless, is misery!
Every day new sorrow to get our scrap of bread!
On its branch shines the fig tree’s sweet fruit,
not for the slave that tended it
but for the cursed master!
The people oppressed,
bent low by his hand,
ah! ah! ah! ah!
what has befallen you,
my poor fatherland!

4. Chor der Derwische
Du hast in deines Ärmels Falten
Den Mond getragen, ihn gespalten.
Kaaba! Mahomet!
Du hast den strahlenden Borak bestiegen
Zum siebenten Himmel aufzufliegen,
Großer Prophet! Kaaba!

In the folds of your sleeves
you have carried the moon and shattered it.
Ka’abah! Muhammad!
You mounted the radiant Borak and,
flew up to seventh heaven,
great Prophet! Ka’abah!

5. Marcia alla turca

6. Zwischenmusik

7. Marsch mit Chor
Schmückt die Altäre!— Sie sind geschmückt.
Streuet Weihrauch!— Er ist gestreut.
Pflücket Rosen!— Sie sind gepflückt.
Harret der Kommenden!— Wir harren der Kommenden.
Seid bereit!— Wir sind bereit.

Bedeck the altars!— They are bedecked.
Swing the censers.— They have been swung.
Gather roses!— They have been gathered.
Await the priestesses!— We await them.
Stand ready!— We stand ready.

8. Rezitativ
Mit reger Freude, die nie erkaltet,
empfangt das holde Schwesterpaar,
Denn wo mit hohem Ernst die Muse sittlich waltet,
Da opfert auch der Weise gern auf ihrem Altar.
Was, mit dem Schicksal kämpfend,
Grosse Seelen litten,
Das hat Melpomene uns warnend aufgestellt,
Indess Thalia, wachend über die Sitten,
Zu ernsten Lehren muntern Spott gesellt.
Wohlthätig wirkt der Musen geistig Spiel,
Der Sterblichen Veredlung ist ihr Ziel.

With lively and ardent joy
welcome the two holy sisters,
for where the Muse gravely presides
we gladly sacrifice at her altar.
What great souls have suffered,
struggling with fate,
Melpomene, as warning, sets before us;
while Thalia, keeping watch upon our ways,
instructs us by use of merry jests.
The Muses’ sport works to our benefit,
for mortals’ ennoblement is their goal.

9. Chor
Wir tragen empfängliche Herzen im Busen,
Wir geben uns willig der Täuschung hin!
Drum weilet gern, ihr holden Musen,
Bei einem Volke mit offenem Sinn.

We bear responsive hearts in our bosoms,
we give ourselves gladly to illusion!
Bide with us, ye holy Muses,
with a people of open mind.

10. Arie (Hohepriester) und Chor
Will unser Genius noch einen Wunsch gewähren,
Durch eines Volkes fromme Bitten bewegt,
O so erhebe zwischen diesen Altären
Sich noch ein dritter, der sein Bildnis trägt!
Er steh’ in seiner Kinder Mitte,
Erblicke sich geliebt, geehrt!

Er ist’s! Wir sind erhört.
O Vater Zeus! Gewährt ist uns’re Bitte!

If our guiding spirit will grant our wish,
stirred by the people’s pious desires,
then raise up between these two altars
yet a third, bearing His portrait!
Let it stand before his children
to be seen with love and honor!

It is so! We have been heard.
O Father Zeus! granted is our desire!

11. Chor
Heil unserm König! Heil! Vernimm uns Gott!
Dankend schwören wir auf’s Neue
Alte ungarische Treue bis in den Tod!

Hail to our King! Hail! Hear us, God!
Thankful, we swear anew
old Hungarian loyalty unto death!


In 1852 Franz Liszt composed a Fantasie über Motive aus Beethovens Ruinen von Athen (Fantasia on [motives from Beethoven's] Ruins of Athens, S.122), for piano and orchestra.

Use in popular culture[edit]

In Latin America the Turkish March theme achieved notorious fame, after it was modified by Jean-Jacques Perrey and later used as the opening theme for the highly successful Mexican TV comedy El Chavo del Ocho.

In several videos documenting footage of the Warhammer 40k video games, the song has had a popular reaction and become a recurring theme among the fans.

The March is often found as a demonstration tune on electronic keyboards and musical toys, possibly because of its strong percussive sound.

The Duet and the Dervish Chorus were the background music for several scenes in an Australian film version of Timon of Athens.


  • Kerman, Joseph, and Tyson, Alan. The New Grove Beethoven. New York, W. W. Norton and Company. 1983. ISBN 0-393-30091-9. Page 52.
  • (Internet Archive cache)
  • Catalogue Beethoven (Opus)

External links[edit]